Marissa Mayer, current CEO of Yahoo!, who was featured on the cover of this week’s Bloomberg Businessweek; hopes to answer the question “Can Marissa Mayer Save Yahoo?” with a resounding, “Yes.”
In 2008 Microsoft made an unsolicited bid to acquire Yahoo! for USD $44.6 billion. Then Yahoo! CEO Jerry Yang was very opposed to the idea, believing the bid “substantially undervalu[ed]” the company and would not be in the interest of the company’s shareholders. Three years later Yang would be out as CEO and the company would be valued at only $22.24 billion.
Two CEOs, two interim CEOs and an education scandal later, Marissa Mayer was left with an embattled and fledgling former titan when she signed on as the company’s CEO in July of 2012. The move marked a new direction for the company, as Mayer was hired because “she stands for the user” which was in contrast to the company’s prior CEOs who had little experience with consumer websites. Mayer was hired away from Google, where she had been an executive in the Location Services department, and she brought with her a number of ideas and practices from the innovative company. Her geeky charisma and credibility made an impact almost immediately, as Yahoo posted positive revenue growth for the first time in four years during her first full quarter with the company. The results, while encouraging, were only the first of many steps that would be needed to bring the company back to prominence.
In her first year as CEO it is clear that the buzz is back, as Mayer has reinvigorated the company. In the past year Yahoo! has acquired 17 new major properties, including this summer’s massive $1.1 billion purchase of the Internet blogging service Tumblr, the company’s largest acquisition in a decade. All these purchases were made possible by the $7.6 billion windfall that Yahoo! gained by selling roughly half of its stake in Alibaba, a Chinese internet company which as enjoyed a lot of success lately. Additionally, Yahoo! reinvigorated the search and photo site, Flickr, a site which had languished under the inattentive care of Yahoo! since its acquisition in 2005. But Mayer wasn’t done there, she has also made sweeping changes to the company’s infrastructure including ending telecommuting, and bringing her employees back to the office.
It is clear that Mayer wants to bring a little Google to Yahoo!, choosing to focus on collaboration and innovation in the workplace. This change in company mentality has been broadly deemed as positive, however there are those who still have their doubts. “She’s just not focused on revenue,” said Colin Gillis, a technology analyst at BGC Financial. “She’s focused on people and products – that’s a Google mentality. The only difference is that Google has beautiful core products that throw off cash, and Yahoo! does not.” Her recent bolstering of the Yahoo Labs, however, shows that Mayer is focused on product research and development. Yahoo Labs, which was created in 2005, suffered a number of major cuts during the brief tenure of former CEO Scott Thompson, something that Mayer is seeking to correct, as she said the company is investing “heavily to build it back up.” Her focus on product development beckons well for continued growth for a company that has enjoyed a 75% increase in stock price over the past year. “Marissa has done two things at Yahoo,” says Ben Ling, a partner at venture capital firm Khosla Ventures and a former Google colleague. “She has made it an attractive place for top talent to work, and she has begun to release products that engage consumers on a daily basis.”
In recognition of the company’s “renewed sense of purpose and progress” Yahoo! announced Wednesday that the company would be kicking of a “30 days of change” campaign which coincides with the company’s launch of a new logo next month. The new logo promises to “be a modern redesign that’s more reflective of [their] reimagined design and new experiences.” Leading up to the new logo, the site will release a new variation of its logo each day (a move that is reminiscent of the Google Doodle).
It is clear that Mayer is instituting the type of sweeping changes needed to bring the former search engine champion back to relevance in the modern internet landscape. As rumors of more deals swirl, including a rumored $800 million bid to acquire Hulu (which seems a little low IMHO), its clear that Mayer is not done reinventing the company, and her willingness to shift the company’s focus to mobile development shows forward thinking and promise. While Yahoo hasn’t yet achieved the relevancy of its former glory days the current progress is very promising. “Name another Internet giant that went through three years of decline and then started to grow again,” Mayer says. “It’s a very good sign.”
This is my final blog for MindoMondo. It has been a fantastic summer and I am glad to have had the opportunity to share my perspective through this medium.
So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish.
Here at Mindclay we have a lot of fun traditions around the office, one of these is a weekly meeting where everyone is encouraged to bring something they found to be inspiring. These meetings, dubbed the “Friday Creative Tech” meeting, are always open and free flowing with tons of great pieces and thoughts brought to the table each week. With so many great samples its hard to choose just one, so we picked 5 of our favorites from this summer, presented in no particular order:
- Return of the Cicadas
This video, which serves as a reminder that excellent music and filmmaking can make just about any subject emotionally engaging. Just try and not feel for these little bugs as the filmmaker deftly tells their story.
- Embraer Floating Catalog
This low-tech inventive piece of specialty advertising shows that you don’t need to have a high tech design to make a high impact impression. This great piece makes use of two sets of magnets, which are used to float the plane catalog about the base. All in all a really awesome effect that I am sure ended up getting some serious CEO desk time.
- Tom Clancy’s The Division Launch Trailer
This piece had the whole room sitting on the edge of their seats. Its rare to see a game trailer these days that gives little to no clue as to the game’s actual gameplay but The Division’s trailer managed to tell an engaging story that left me, and a number of people in the room saying “I am so buying that when it comes out”.
- Monkey Light Pro
This one goes in the “shut up and take my money” category. This awesome crowd funded project projects just about anything you can imagine onto your bike’s wheels using a set of LED lights. The Kickstarter’s video for this project is definitely worth a view.
- Cape Town Facebook Vacation Experience
The assignment on this project was simple, bring more visitors to Cape Town and do it cheaply. That’s exactly what Ogilvy and Mather South Africa accomplished with their brilliant ‘Send your Facebook Profile to Cape Town’ campaign. As the video shows, users could sign up to send their social media profile on a virtual vacation, complete with photos, status updates, and tags. On top of that every participant also entered a raffle to win an actual trip to Cape Town, pretty awesome.
Sometimes we forget about how even the most simple things can be beautiful if you look at them in the right way. That is what Russian graphic designer Ruslan Khasanov has captured in his experimental video entitled “Pacific Lights”. In the project Khasanov mixed colored ink droplets with soap and oil and shot them in extreme close up. The effect is nothing short of magical. Watch the video in full screen and HD to get the full effect, as it is nothing short of mesmerizing.
Reddit has long been a social media network that has been rather difficult for marketers to tap into. The community is extremely savvy and tends to be able to spot marketing efforts no matter how clever (as Microsoft allegedly found out this summer). One of the other major issues facing marketers is that until now there was no really good tool to track social statistics on the site. It took a group of students over at the premiere programming school, Hack Reactor, to come up with a simple solution. Reddit Insight is a web-based Reddit analytics program that allows users to, among other features: track posts in real time, letting you see graphically your post’s Karma and see just how well it is performing and create word clouds to find what words are being used most frequently in your favorite subreddit, allowing for greater title optimization. This brand new tool could really prove useful, both for marketers and the karma-obsessed members of Reddit.
Facebook is becoming routine. In terms of tasks, checking your Facebook falls somewhere in the daily routine along with getting dressed and brushing your teeth. So why is it that studies are showing that teens and tweens are beginning to view the popular network as a “social burden”?
According to studies by Piper Jaffray and the Pew Research Center, tweens and teens view Facebook as more of a social utility, something that is simply a part of their lives. Facebook is to social networking what clothes are to an identity, the first impression, a publicly broadcasted persona. In fact, according to another Piper Jaffary study, only 33% of teenagers consider Facebook to be their most important social network – 10% fewer than last year, as opposed to Twitter, which ranks at 30% and has been climbing in recent years. Teens and tweens are not abandoning Facebook, but rather concentrating their interests on many different networks, namely Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, Snapchat and Vine. For many, these other networks are where they go to truly express themselves, with Facebook acting as their general Internet profile. Why is this happening? What is the need for so many social networking profiles?
Well, for one, the teen and tween community is more than aware of the fact that seemingly everyone has a Facebook page these days, from their peers to their parents and future employers and because of that they have also become somewhat hyper aware of the content that they post. “What happens on Facebook stays on Facebook” is an adage that has long been outmoded, as people now are extremely careful with what they post on the network due to its overarching nature. In the same way you might put on a face in a professional environment, teens and tweens are using Facebook to create an online persona, which is tailored for the more general public. So what happened to self-expression on social networks? It moved. Like everything in today’s world, specialization has become the keyword in social networking. Today there are many different networks to choose from with each offering its own unique benefits and it is for that reason that teens and tweens are spreading themselves among many different networks. Have a photo that you want to share? There’s Instagram. Want to discuss any random topic under the sun with strangers? There’s Reddit. Have a random thought that you want to share, but aren’t sure if its worthy of a status update? Twitter fills that void and then some.
So how you might ask, does modern Facebook differ from a professional social networking site like say LinkedIn? The answer is simple; LinkedIn is an online representation of your professional self. So to put it into the real world, the persona you display on LinkedIn should be relative to the persona you have in a work environment. For Facebook, it is the side of you that is off work, but only to the point that you would want employers to see. Think of it this way, you take a trip to Vegas to go to the CES Tradeshow and your boss knows about it. You take a ton of pictures while there and decide to post some. Now these pictures are divided into three categories, professional (pictures of the conference), appropriate (i.e. pictures of you at the corporate mixer after, preferably sans alcohol), and the ‘stays in Vegas’ category. In social media terms the conference photos would be something that you might post on LinkedIn, the second category would be Facebook posts (because they show you have a personality but are still professional), while the photos in the third category either never see the light of day or are posted to various corners of the Internet like Reddit and Tumblr under an alias. That right there is at least three separate portrayals of you online.
Perhaps you, reader, are not as fractured as many when it comes to your online persona but the fact remains that this is the thought process for many teens and tweens in today’s social media driven world. Each network requires you to fall into a different set of social constraints, just like different social groups offline. The difference is with social media it can be instantaneous; the hop between social constraints, meaning you could simultaneously be managing three or more different aspects of your personality at once. The question is, is all this persona juggling a good thing?
Sometimes the simplest innovations end up making the biggest impacts, and that might just be the case with Fliike. In today’s social media driven world the Facebook “like” is a piece of important social currency. But until now unlike actual currency, there has been no tangible way of displaying your likes on Facebook. Fliike solves this problem with an inspired design that merges the digital and the analog. According to the website, Fliike is the first physical Facebook Fan (or “like”) counter designed specifically for local businesses (sorry big box stores, but the likes counter only goes up to 99,999), public places or marketing departments. The genius behind the product is twofold, first and perhaps most obviously it shows that your brand is well respected and “liked” by a number of people, something that will draw today’s social media savvy customers, and secondly from a novelty standpoint this gadget is a great way to entice customers to interact with your brand on Facebook because they get to see, live, their like added to the counter’s analog display.
From a design standpoint, the decision to go with an analog counter for a digital medium was pretty striking. Perhaps I am too easily entertained but I can imagine that watching the counter roll up as the number of likes increased would be pretty darn satisfying. Even for employees, imagine having a customer who you just checked out like the store as she walked out. With Fliike the employee can get real time feedback that they helped make the experience an enjoyable one for the customer and in today’s world, real time feedback translates to real big time dollars. With augmented reality poised to take off in the next year or so with the release of Google Glass, it is really cool to see something that manages to merge both the digital and analog so effectively. I’m a big fan of this idea, and I can’t wait to see if it catches on.
Today while stumbling around the internet I was struck (pun intended, unfortunately) by this stunning series of photographs by photographer Deborah Bay. In her series, which she dubbed “The Big Bang,” the photographer captures bullets as they are lodged in ‘bulletproof’ plexiglass. The piece was inspired by a building materials store’s bulletproof plexiglass display, in which a few different types of ammunition were lodged in the hard plastic to demonstrate the strength of the product.
This stunning series of photographs is testament to the fact that beauty can be all about how something is framed. Out of context, one might never view bullet markings as beautiful, however through the eyes of a gifted artist such as Ms. Bay something so mundane can become beautiful. Remember that today as you go into the weekend. Can you find the beauty in the mundane?
For more information about the photo series, including more of the photo series check out the original article over at The Smithsonian.
These days everyone has a Facebook, most of us have a Twitter, a lot of us have a Google+ account (although not many of us use it), anyone under 25 has an Instagram and Snapchat account with a growing majority of those same users picking up Vine as well recently. That’s at least 6 networks which are on the general (youth) population’s consciousness at any given time and there are plenty more I could have mentioned. Point is, we are seemingly inundated with social networks, which seem to spin off from popular networks’ core ideas. These networks let us connect with people outside of our typical network (literally and figuratively speaking) and help open eyes to new points of view. Without further ado, here are five networks I bet you haven’t checked out yet:
- Whisper – This new social network advertises itself as ‘the anonymous social network.’ The network has caught on at college campuses across the US, similar to many ‘gossip-driven’ networks in the past (i.e. JuicyCampus, CollegeACB, Lulu, etc.). The iPhone app driven network allows users to post secrets anonymously in real time and receive feedback and comments from other users. Think of it as /r/Adviceanimals on Reddit, but with confession bears only. This quick teaser-like format could be a boon for marketers looking to build buzz (see: film marketing) if the network loosens its rules to allow marketing.
- Medium – Are you an independent blogger? Have random thoughts that you would like to talk about but can’t keep to 140 characters or less? Enjoy the community based voting of Reddit? Well Medium might be for you! Medium describes itself as “a better place to read and write about things that matter.” The format allows for people to compose what they want when they want without any of the confusing extras that might come with something like WordPress, it is all very simple. It also takes the writing process to a more social level, allowing you to seek help from the community for edits even before you publish. Best yet if you create good content, you don’t have to constantly manage a blog, posting weekly or more frequently, rather you are connected to a network that allows people to essentially up and downvote blogs, letting the community as a whole (with some algorithmic help) decide what makes it to the front page.
- Wanelo – Short for “Want Need Love,” Wanelo is an online shopping community that borrows a lot of its roots from the popular Pinterest network. This website takes a concept which has been very popular, especially with females, with the image board of items you just have to have, and extends it to the next logical step. From this site you are not only able to post pictures of your crafty wares but those pictures will link directly to a store where you can buy them. To quote George Michael “it was low hanging fruit” something someone just had to come along and bridge the gap on, now someone did.
- Branch – Branch was created by the people behind Twitter and Blogger and was designed to be a sort of cross between Quora and Twitter. Using your Twitter account, you sign into the network and take part in in-depth conversations with friends, celebrities, or other industry professionals. Users can then invite people to participate in the conversation (ensuring it doesn’t get ruined by trolls) while non-invited users can subscribe to the conversations and receive updates on them. Branch attempts to create higher quality conversation, bridging a gap between microblogging and Twitter.
- Sina Weibo – Ok so this isn’t even in English as of now, but it is a site to watch. Sina Weibo, currently one of the most popular sites in China with over 386 million registered users, is a microblogging website that is similar to a hybrid of Twitter and Facebook. Like Twitter, it restricts users on the number of words per post, however because the posts are written in Chinese characters each one can represent a whole word meaning there can be a lot more detail per post. So essentially think of it like if Twitter were to increase their character limit by 200 or more. The network is developing an English language version, so this is something to keep an eye on.
The beard, it is something that is essentially masculine. The most epic of beards is sure to inspire the awe of those all around. Beards have made men into Gods, from ZZ Top to Gandolf, it is clear that a beard of epic magnitude is a true attention getting device. You may have also noticed that in recent years there has been a rather noticeable shift in the nation’s average hair to face ratio, as bearded hipsters and other indie personalities have brought the beard into the forefront of urban fashion. As the number of urban mountain men increased around the nation, it was inevitable that some entrepreneurial opportunist would find a way to capitalize on the phenomenon.
Enter “Beardvertising” and yes, it is exactly what it sounds like. The concept, created by Kentucky ad agency Cornett-IMS, is incredibly simple: Users can sign up on the website, offering their beard to companies as ad space. Then once accepted you will get little ‘Beardboard’ (patent pending) which will have a small ad on it. All you do is clip it on and collect up to $5 a day. It sounds simple, because it really is. All that is left is for the hipsters to start wearing the ads as some sort of ‘ironic statement against consumerism’ and we will have another full fledged trend on our hands.
You may have been told at some point, maybe even by me, that Facebook is not the place for hashtags, they are devices for Twitter and Instagram only. Well funny thing….
Facebook recently announced that the company is going to start integrating hashtags into its network, a move that should come as no surprise to anyone. Ever since Facebook bought Instagram, the hashtag has become far more ubiquitous on the network as typically Instagram photos are posted to Facebook with no altering of phrases like ‘#nofilter’. It wasn’t long before the annoyed ‘#ThisIsNotTwitter’ comments began drying up and the hashtag itself became a part of common vernacular.
The hashtag is an essential part of social media, especially when it comes to businesses. It allows one to become a part of a broader discussion, letting other people whom you may not know see your thoughts on a particular subject. A well-timed and composed hashtag combined with good content can really help you get noticed by a wider audience. The omnipresence of Facebook makes it the perfect platform for the hashtag. The sheer number of users (over 1.1 billion and counting) on the site would make it the third largest country in the world, with estimates saying it will surpass China in population in the next three years. By comparison that’s more than the total users of Twitter, Google+, Instagram, and Pinterest combined. Furthermore the community is very active according to Greg Lindley, “during primetime television alone, there are between 88 and 100 million Americans engaged on Facebook” or essentially “a Super Bowl-sized audience every single night.”
Facebook hashtags will operate in the same way that they have on Instagram and Twitter, connecting a community on a single word or phrase. The hashtags will be searchable from the search bar. Furthermore hashtags from other services, such as Instagram, will be clickable as well.
So now that you no longer have an excuse to not use hashtags, how does one use them effectively? Here are a few helpful tips for the uninitiated:
- Hashtags are like keywords: a general hashtag like #smallbusiness might get you to be a part of a larger conversation, however you should also have hashtags designed specifically for your brand. That way people link specifically to you with that hashtag.
- Keep your eye out for business-specific discussion: Social media can be both an advertising and informational tool. Keep your eye out for trends which could offer either beneficial information (marketing or otherwise) or an opportunity to advertise yourself (as Oreo did at the Super Bowl this year).
- Simplicity is King: Shorter simpler hashtags are more effective than larger ones.
- Avoid Clutter: 1 to 2 hashtags are more effective than 6 to 7. Twitter’s 140 character limit has thus far kept hashtag spamming at bay, that limit is not imposed on Facebook. Avoid looking like a spammer by using too many hashtags.
- Activate your hashtag: If you don’t use the hashtags you create they will never catch on; you need to get the conversation started about your hashtag, add it to your current marketing channels to get it out there.
Using these tips as a springboard you should be ready to join the #conversation!
Additionally, as a sort of PSA, don’t forget to double-check your personal privacy settings. Hashtags make posts far more easily discoverable to others, for better or worse.